Maialino's Olive Oil Cake

February 11, 2014

Author Notes: Olive oil cake at its best has a crackling crust and an aromatic oil-rich middle, which, if it held any more moisture, would be pudding. Pulling this off should be easy—there aren't even egg whites to whip and fold, or butter to cream—but it isn't always. This one, however, is perfect, and will ruin you for all others. Recipe from Maialino Restaurant in New York City, where they also serve it at breakfast in muffin form, and they've been known to turn it into a birthday cake, layered with mascarpone buttercream. The recipe is pictured here with Michelle Polzine's Slow-Roasted Strawberries from the forthcoming Genius Desserts cookbook (Ten Speed Press, September 2018).Genius Recipes

Makes: a 9-inch round cake
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 1 hrs


  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups (350g) sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/3 cups (285g) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups (305g) whole milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup (60g) fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup (55g) Grand Marnier


  1. Heat the oven to 350° F. Oil, butter, or spray a 9-inch cake pan that is at least 2 inches deep with cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper. (If your cake pan is less than 2 inches deep, divide between 2 pans and start checking for doneness at 30 minutes.)
  2. In a bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and powder. In another bowl, whisk the olive oil, milk, eggs, orange zest and juice and Grand Marnier. Add the dry ingredients; whisk until just combined.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, until the top is golden and a cake tester comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes.
  4. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely, 2 hours.

More Great Recipes:
Cake|Italian|American|Fruit|Serves a Crowd|Make Ahead|Fall|Winter|Christmas|Easter|Hanukkah|Rosh Hashanah

Reviews (388) Questions (17)


cheftekar October 12, 2018
WOOW!!!!!!! This is literally the easiest and most brainless recipe one could ask for and it’s A M A Z I N G!!!!!!!! If you don’t have gran marnier, just add extra OJ.
g September 30, 2018
Am i missing something? 1 3/4 cups sugar is not 350g, 1 1/3 cups extra-virgin olive oil is not 285g and nor is<br />1 1/4 cups whole milk equal to 305g......
Kristen M. September 30, 2018
Hi g, while these amounts might be very slightly off due to rounding and whatever measuring cups you're using to compare (they can vary a good deal, which is why many bakers prefer to rely on grams), they should be very close and the recipe should work well with either the grams or volumes used. What discrepancies are you seeing?
g October 1, 2018
Hi, the grams seem to be double of the cup measurements......
Kristen M. October 6, 2018
Hm, I don't think that could be true—have you checked your scale's calibration lately? A good way to do it is that 1 cup of water should weigh very close to 236.59 grams.
maryO September 16, 2018
Note to self: to make gluten free: replace flour with 1 1/2 cups King Arthur gluten free flour, 1 cup almond flour. Use only 3/4 c of olive oil mixed first with eggs. Frost with marscapone frosting (4T butter, 3c 10x sugar, OJ, 8 oz marscapone). Serve with berries.
Lynn M. September 12, 2018
Can you make this recipe with coconut or almond flour? Also can you use swerve sugar? I’ve made this cake the regular way and it was amazing. I just want to try it this way for my low carb friends. Thank you
Monica B. September 11, 2018
I made this version a few days ago. My usual version uses 1 cup oil and 1 cup buttermilk. I think this recipe could use a reduction in the oil for sure. It was just slightly too greasy and an oily layer formed on the bottom.
Jacquie September 4, 2018
Just made this for a dinner party. Rave reviews
jan B. August 7, 2018
I have made this several times using Cointreau and it is delicious! Maybe the world knows this but I didn't...mix the orange zest with some of the sugar first (I use my fingers) to be sure it is well distributed in the cake. Whenever I mix zest with liquid, it always clumps on the beaters or the whisk.
Cook July 24, 2018
You might want to take a technique from some pro kitchens - put your flour in a food processor - and process the oil in with it until powdery... then proceed with the other dry ingredients. Then stir the two (wet & dry) together lightly. <br /><br />NOTE: I've not done that with this recipe, so just suggesting, I can't guarantee the outcome. <br /><br />One thing I CAN say is that you might want to ensure your pan and oven both are hot. I did mine in a cast iron pan - and it was outstanding. :)
Ann July 24, 2018
Thanks for that suggestion, which I never would have thought of.......And my oven was hot, but not my pan. Hmmmmm.
jenh718 October 23, 2018
I’m a pastry chef and what mixing method used depends on the kind of cake your making. You can’t just switch mixing methods willy nilly and expect the same results. <br />I’ve made this cake as cake and as morning muffins and I followed the recipe here and see no reason to change it up. It’s perfect as is.
Ann July 24, 2018
I love this cake and have made it many times. But I am still having a problem completely integrating the olive oil. It LOOKS mixed in, but when I slice a piece, I can clearly see a line towards the bottom of the cake, below while appears to be olive oil that isn’t integrated. Another reviewer suggested mixed the eggs and olive oil together before adding the other wet ingredients, but this didn’t work for me either. Does anyone else have a suggestion? The cake tastes delicious but I’m a bit put off by its looks. Thanks.
Monica B. September 11, 2018
You should try just 1 cup of oil. I had the same problem and I just looked at the version of olive oil cake that I make and that is the amount i usually use.<br />
hellspantry July 21, 2018
A very simple and delicious cake. I swapped in vodka for the Grand Marnier, because I didn't have any. I think it was missing the orange flavor. I'll definitely add it next time, along with more orange zest. I served it with Marscapone cheese thinned with orange juice.
Prathima July 14, 2018
For those of us who use the mobile site, the video is incredibly aggravating, and interferes with the use of other apps. I get why you want video content, but could you just please leave it in the article, not the recipe?
Kristen M. July 14, 2018
I'm sorry to hear this and surprised to hear that it's autoplaying on mobile. What type of mobile device are you using? I hope that at least you can pause the video after it starts playing.
Meredith O. July 8, 2018
I'm planning to make this cake for a big gathering (80+ people) and I figure I'll need to multiply the recipe by 6. I will be using larger pans and so am wondering if I should use a smaller proportion of baking powder than the original recipe -- eg., less than the 3 teaspoons I'd get with straight multiplication. Any advice?
WinterGal July 8, 2018
this is where the professionals would suggest a test run, but that’s not always possible. if i were to do this i would make the six separate batches and fill the larger pans evenly with those six batches. not sure if this is the best idea chemistry-wise, but it’s what i would try if no one offers a tried and true solution. good luck meredith, and let us know what you decide and how it turns out!
Yabbadoo July 10, 2018
One large batch is hard to manage, I have small/medium mixing bowls. maybe 3 batches and do 2 at a time or two batches and 3 at a time, depends on how many you can bake at a time too. keep the same amount of baking powder. If its a little more fluffy, it's a bonus. as soon as the baking powder hits moist dough, it starts working so you don't want it sitting unbaked too long so it's a matter of timing your batches and oven readiness for the batches.
Meredith O. July 10, 2018
Thanks for the feedback! I will have access to a mondo Hobart commercial mixer so a single large batch is a possibility, albeit a rather intimidating one. We shall see ...
Kristen M. July 10, 2018
Hi Meredith, I heard from a friend of a friend who's made this cake for 2 weddings (!) and wanted to share her advice: <br />"Of course! I've used it as layers in two wedding cakes now and it has gone off beautifully. I've tripled the recipe and baked it in 3 different sized (tiered) pans.<br /> I have a standard mixer so doubling or tripling the recipe is my max for the bowl.<br /> I didn't encounter any issues with having to adjust ingredients but did find (since it is a thinner batter) that when baked in the larger pans, the 'domed' part of the top of the cake wasn't quite done when the rest of the cake had baked.<br /> Since I was using it as layers in the cake I had to level out the 'dome' anyway so this didn't affect too much."<br />
Meredith O. July 10, 2018
Thanks, Kristen and thanks to your friend! So glad to have that info about the variability on the bake time. I'm doing the roasted strawberries, too, but will make those well ahead of time.<br />
Meredith O. August 7, 2018
For anyone wondering if it's possible to make the cake for 80+ people and not lose your mind: yes. I multiplied the recipe 7 times, made two batches in restaurant-size Hobart mixer, baked in 2 sheet pans. Because of the larger pans, I baked at 325 instead of 350. Recipe continues to blow people's minds.
hannahmh June 28, 2018
I think this amazing recipe used to be accompanied by amazing photos. Nothing against the video, but please bring back photos! Please don't start replacing photos with videos.
Kristen M. June 28, 2018
Hi hannahmh, we're hoping to be able to show both photos and videos in the future, but that will take some engineering work and we figure the video is more useful to cooks for now. Don't worry, the original photos still exist behind the scenes, and you can see them on these article pages: <br />
Prathima July 14, 2018
the video auto-plays on the mobile site and it is incredibly frustrating.
j May 25, 2018
Well, flipping it over after 30 minutes did not work out so well.<br />It broke apart. It is heavy than most cakes, and was still warm, so bad idea. I guess my spring form pan was heavy also.
LULULAND May 25, 2018
You didn't need to flip it over. I used a springform pan, 9". It turned out awesome.
LULULAND May 16, 2018
WOW, Excellent! I just made it. I used 1 1/2 cups of sugar, and cashew milk. Those were the only changes. The recipe is perfect on its own. I had to bake it for 1 1/2 hours, at 350. It is rich, moist, tastes like an expensive cake that you would get at an Italian restaurant. We had it without anything else on top or over it, it doesn't need it and would over power the orange flavor in my opinion. Thank you for the recipe.
Atelier A. May 16, 2018
fyi, the Mascarpone frosting is really fabulous, in no way overpowering - but the cake can easily stand on its own 😉😍.
Cook May 15, 2018
Not having a cake tin, I baked mine in a 10' cast iron pan. Don't make the same mistake I did - I heated the pan to warm it and spread oil on the bottom. I forgot that I handn't placed it in the heated oven, so it sat on top of a stove for 10 minutes. I realized that I had probably ruined it, but i put it in the oven for the rest of the cooking time. Let's just say - after shaving off the bottom 1" from the cake - it's still DELISH!!! LOL. Some peeps shouldn't bake a lot. Like me. But I still managed to have an awesome dessert!!!
Cook May 15, 2018
Made this last night - only topped it with a processed mix of dark chocolate and walnuts.... that was tasty.<br />However, hubby felt the orange flavor should have been stronger. Next time I'll use OJ concentrate instead of OJ. <br />The texture was almost like a stiff pudding, it was sooooo delightful!!! <br />
Victoria P. May 12, 2018
I combined two recipes (Giada polenta and almond meal cake) in order to make it gluten-free but the batter was so very liquidy that I worried it would not set or rise. But, it did! Very delicious and moist. Easy, too. So, basically, just sub almond flour and polenta for the flour here and you are good to go.
Anusha R. July 14, 2018
What ratio of almond flour to polenta did you use? Sounds good!
Lina April 30, 2018
I made this yesterday and we all loved it. It is a moist, dense and perfumed delight! I think that the key for success is not changing a thing in the recipe.
sheila May 15, 2018
Alicia April 29, 2018
I made this for a dinner party with the roasted strawberries and mascarpone whipped cream. Oh, my. Absolutely perfect. I took the advice of a commenter to whisk the eggs together with the olive oil before mixing in the other wet ingredients to emulsify the oil into the batter and it was perfect - moist, not oily. I used fresh Meyer lemon juice and homemade limoncello instead of the orange. So, so good.